None of the five Bible verses Ali here cites, predict what he says they do. Yet he, on the strength of Sura 3:81, rightly refers not only the People of the Book in Muhammad’s time but refers also his own readers of the Qur’an to the Holy Bible containing those verses.
So too at Sura 3:99. There, the Qur’an urges: "O you People of the Book!… You were yourselves witnesses (to God’s Covenant). But God is not unmindful of all that you do."
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In Sura 3:113-115, it is further conceded: "Not all of them are alike. Of the People of the Book, there are a portion that stand (for the right). They rehearse the signs of God…and then prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day. They enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong. And they (hasten in emulation) in (all) good works. They are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them. For God knows well those who do right."
Clearly, then, Muhammad here assumes it is precisely from the Holy Bible that these ‘People of the Book’ are able to discern what is right – so as to be able to do it. From that same Book, they are also able to worship God aright – and to believe in the Last Day.
Indeed, at Sura 3:187 the Qur’an even states: "Remember, God took a Covenant from the People of the Book to make it known and clear to mankind." This stresses the clarity and the knowability of the Covenant of that Book – not only to Judaists and Christians but indeed to all of "mankind" too (including also Muslims).
Hence, as Sura 3:187 insists: "There are, certainly, among the People of the Book those who believe in God – in the revelation of You, and in the revelation to them – bowing in humility to God…. For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account." Again in Sura 4:47: "O you People of the Book! Believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming what was (already) with you!"
Also in Sura 6:19-20, Muhammad says to the People of the Book: "Can you possibly bear witness that beside God, there is another God?" He then urges them to "say: ‘Nay! I cannot bear witness!’" – and also to "say: ‘But in truth, He is the one God.’" Then the Qur’an immediately says about those ‘People of the Book’: "Those to whom We have given the Book – know this."
However. That clearly presupposes the understandability of the Bible. Also in Muhammad’s own time.
Vital are Suras 5:62 & 5:71 and 10:94. "O People of the Book!…. We [Muslims] believe in God and the revelation…which came before us…. You have no ground to stand upon – unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the Revelation that has come to you from your Lord….
" If you were in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before you!" This means also Muhammad and his colleagues claimed to believe (and thus to understand) the Bible.
Whether the original content of these latter verses in the Qur’an are directed at Christians or at Judaists or at Muslims or at all three – it proves in all respects very clearly that even according to the Qur’an, precisely copies of the Bible itself were valid as the then-available and reliable and understandable and well-known and only religious standard (accepted by the Qur’an) until at least 680 A.D. For it is only around such latter year, that little pieces of the by-then-completed Qur’an itself were for the first time collected and again written down as one complete document – and subsequently reproduced and increasingly made available, first in various Arabic copies thereof and later still in the form of translations.